"I began to think I would have to live with my disfigurement"

About: Barnsley Hospital / Maxillo-Facial surgery Barnsley Hospital / Oral surgery

(as the patient),

After almost 45 years of not being ill, I was told that I had a tumour which was attached to the gland in my face. This, at the time, was frightening, as it could have been malignant. I was admitted to Sheffield Hallamshire Hospital in March. I had been told that such surgery carried risks eg floppy lip, loss of sight/hearing and facial paralysis if the nerve was damaged or cut.

Following the operation, I was moved into recovery. I soon realised that my eye and mouth were not operational. In fact, I had suffered all of the above related risks. Once on the ward, I was observed every two hours. My condition did not improve, but neither did I deteriorate.

The following day my bandages were removed and when I looked in the mirror I was horrified how my face was indented and distorted. As there were no other health concerns, I was discharged the same day.

Ten days later I had my clips and stitches removed. My face was still swollen and lacked movement. Over a period of seven weeks, I remained the ugly duckling, as my eye, lip and cheek failed to recover and improve. It was during these early weeks that I felt down and depressed and began to think that I would have to live with my disfigurement.

On week eight I started physiotherapy and was advised to use the nervomuscular stimulator twice a day, as well as having weekly physiotherapy appointments.

I am now sixteen weeks post surgery and my face is 80% recovered. I continue with my exercises and hope for further improvements.

The best bits for me was seeing my face recover.

The worst bit was clearly the fear of no improvement and being depressed about this.

I would have benefited from speaking to someone who had undergone a similar procedure, as then I could have asked them if they had experienced the same surgical consequences and what they were like at the different recovery stages.

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